Faith Formation Coordinator Grades 1-5
Hello St. Augus ne’s Family, I’m Regina Wright and I’ve been the Faith Formation Coordinator for Grades 1-5 at the parish for just over a year now. My husband Geray and I were delighted to find this wonderful parish community ten years ago and were genuinely touched by the loving and open arms of hospitality we found here. Though relatively new to my part time ministry position, I have served through the years in volunteer positions with elementary students, with adults in the RCIA, and with our parish women’s ministry, Monica’s Circle.
Though there was little time before Covid hit for me to get to know families and collaborate with our catechists on family faith formation experiences; that December we walked a Posada and had a Christmas Party in the parish hall. When we went to lockdown and needed to find another model for faith formation, we finished out the year with a weekly email retelling each week’s Scripture, highlighted by a video of the Gospel message and activities that families could do together. During and following lockdown, Debbie and I on the faith formation team, have worked to be a presence to families during the uncertainty of the time. Through meetings with parents and survey responses, we developed a remote faith forma on model which is family centered and held via Zoom. We meet for “seasons” of faith forma on where students are taught as a group and receive ageappropriate materials that help families go deeper with the lessons. The website gets a lot of use as materials are posted making it possible for everyone to par cipate in the lessons, even if their child had to miss class. It has been a challenging year moving everything to a remote learning environment. God has and continues to provide in our ongoing need for folks comfortable in a Zoom classroom environment.
We have been especially blessed by the continued generosity of everyone in the parish to be able to continue faith formation in new and innovative ways that reach families where they are during this difficult time. We have received such positive feedback from parents about their child’s experiences and how their families are growing in faith. We have seen families from a distance during this time of pandemic when faith formation kits are distributed, and by holding community experiences like the recent Neighborhood Luminaries’ event, a joint effort of St. Augustine’s and St. Mary’s.
Please continue to hold our faith formation program in prayer as we continue to invite children to know and develop a deeper relationship with God and to accompany our parish families.
I became the Youth Minister for St. Augustine’s and St. Mary’s in April of 2019. I was drawn into this ministry after an incredibly positive experience with Youth Ministry in my own youth. I had the opportunity to attend Youth Fests and National Catholic Youth Conferences in middle school and high school, and those types of experiences helped me grown in my faith and want to share it with others. After college, I worked part time as a Youth and Young Adult Minister and then as a Catechetical Leader. During those experiences, I came to realize- this is my vocation. When the opportunity arose to take this position, I was very eager to take on this role.
Youth Ministry now is both quite different but also very similar to how it was before Covid-19 came. Youth Ministry is about relationships and helping youth in their own faith journeys. One of the most important things as a Youth Minister is figuring out- what exactly does this young man/woman need? I am grateful that even amid the pandemic, I’ve been able to connect with youth and minister to them. We used to have social and service events in person without thinking about things like safety or large crowds. Now, we must gather in smaller groups or online. Nonetheless, in the Summer of 2020, we were still able to do our yearly Summer Servants Mission “Trip.” We couldn’t stay overnight, and it was limited to a very small group, but, we followed protocol, did as much as we could outside and practiced social distancing as much as we could. Although it was different, it was an incredible week to remember. As a Youth Minister, having a smaller group gave me the opportunity to connect with the teens much deeper than I would have been able to with a bigger group.
Covid-19 has led me to think outside the box more, and I’m doing some things I wouldn’t be doing had this never happened. One is example is “At Home Service Projects.” Over the summer, I gave the group a Service Scavenger Hunt where they had to complete a list of service activities, some of which were to pray for their parish family or pick up a piece of trash on a walk. I think this helps youth take more ownership of their faith and teaches them- you don’t have to be in a big group or at a soup kitchen to do service – you can serve others and answer the call by praying or protecting God’s creation. I had never heard of Zoom Pre-Covid, and now we have monthly gatherings on Zoom called “Fun Fridays on Zoom” and the kids have a blast! Fr. Cliff and Fr. Lou even joined us one night for virtual trivia and the youth still talk about it. I try to keep things fun and fresh by having monthly “themes” and the kids looks forward to what the theme will be each month. I am very blessed that through all these challenges our world has faced, I’ve been able to evangelize and connect with the youth.
I do hope that in the future we are able to meet more freely in person. Although I love small groups and Zoom, there is value to all of us being together in one big group. But in the future, I hope to continue our monthly meetings on Zoom since the youth enjoy them so much. I also hope to continue giving the youth service projects to do at home, as it makes service more a part of daily life instead of something you do under special circumstances.
If people would like to pray in a special way for Youth Ministry, I would ask people to pray for the incredible youth in both parishes, and also our amazing volunteers. I am blessed with so many wonderful parents and parishioners who want to help me and I would not be able to do what I do without them!
Supervisor for Buildings & Grounds
Hello, I am sure you know me, I have been at St. Augustine’s for “yes that’s right” 41 years. When I started working part time, while going to college at SU, the job did not even have an official title. Now my title is Supervisor for Buildings and Grounds. Working was a come and go job, until I started full time after graduating from collage with a BS degree in biology. This was an exciting time when the church was renovated, staff was increased, the idea of parish ministry was introduced, and the Pastoral Center was conceived and built. This is what kept me here, seeing this parish grow, working with a great ministry team, and being part of this wonderful parish family.
As ministry has grown in our parish, I have become responsible for 6 different ministries, (building and grounds, cleaning, church linen care, plant care, Sr. Pat Geary Award, and the labyrinth). Many parishioners start in ministry in one of these areas, and helping them get involved in parish life has become the best part of my job. I have watched as parishioners have started with cleaning the church, and progressed over the years to the Pastoral Council. Many wonderful people have passed through my ministries.
I can remember last March, it was the weekend for the presentation of the Sr. Pat Geary Award, everything was ready for this wonderful parish event when the COVID-19 virus hit, and shut everything down. Many of my ministries are not what they were, we all have found different ways to keep things going. The virus has changed our lives, and our ministry team has found ways to reach out to all, young to old. I spend a lot of time in empty buildings, I miss the daily excitement, and the activity people bring. I continue to keep the parish buildings safe with daily sanitizing and the church is open for visits Monday - Thursday, & Saturday, 10 am - 1 pm.
I hope, and pray that the vaccine for the COVID virus will be the pathway back to a full church, and a continuation of our parish mission that we all miss. We must all remember that we will get through this with the help of our God and each other.
Peace, stay safe. David Ditz
Hi, I am the administrative assistant in the parish office. I have been on the ministry team for 13 years. I started as a part time assistant to Kathy Meus who was the Director of Faith Formation. I was working 15 hours a week and, in the summer me, only 5 hours a week. I am now working 30 hours a week spring, summer, fall and winter!
My husband, Christopher and I moved here in 1995 along with our three sons. We had been living in Naperville, IL where Chris was a manager of an office for his company. He was transferred to the Syracuse office in ’95. Originally, we are both from Euclid, OH a suburb of Cleveland. We were born and raised in Euclid. We met in high school and the rest is history. We have been living in Baldwinsville for the past 26 years. Our family has grown. We now have a daughter-in-law and 2 wonderful grandsons ages of 9 and 15 months. Having grandchildren is certainly a highlight of mine & my husband’s lives. They keep us busy for sure!
To say that I like my ministry is an understatement. I love talking to everyone on the phone, greeting visitors in the office, as well assisting Fr. Cliff and other staff members. I have met so many wonderful people over the past 13 years. Many that I now call friends. Back in March when COVID19 hit Central New York it was very frightening. I had so many questions. One was what would happen to St. Augustine’s? Would we be able to sustain ourselves in such trying and difficult times? I should not have doubted the dedication of our parishioners. Donations came in immediately to help wherever help was needed. We are a vibrant parish with many dedicated parishioners. We are so blessed to have you as a parishioner of St. Augustine’s!
I see volunteers everywhere undertaking tasks that just amaze me all the time! The dedication that I see is another testament of the great parishioners we have and their commitment to the ministries they signed covenants to join.I would ask parishioners to continue praying for our parish. Also, that the vaccines will come to Central New York very soon for all of us. I pray that we will all be able to go back to the way things used to be with our parish campus buzzing with people and activities sharing God’s love and care.
Happy New Year! God bless and take care.
Dear parish family,
I am Meg Castellini and I have been coordinating parish communications for the past six years. Several years back, some of you might remember that I worked with Kathy Meus in faith formation. My husband Rich and I have been members of this great parish family for 20 years. We have 3 grown children and 2 precious grandchildren - who unfortunately, live 800 miles away!
St. Augustine’s is kind of like being a part of the “Cheers” neighborhood - you know, where everyone knows your name? It is quite possibly one of the most welcoming places I have ever been part of. This is especially true during these past months when all of you graciously answered the call to carry each other through in one way or another. Whether you donated your time, talent and/or funds, you have kept our little parish chugging. I am personally grateful for the ways that you have encouraged and entrusted me with the great privilege to keep our connections strong. I can honestly say, I had a great deal to learn this year as we had to adapt to a “new normal”, but I think that this experience has only made us stronger.
As my own journey continues and our parish community’s needs change, I feel it is a good time to step aside and pass the baton. I will continue to be enriched through volunteer opportunities, my retreat ministry, my communications role at the Spiritual Renewal Center and some freelance work. Most of all, I can spend a little more time with my 92-year old Mom.
Director of Music
I have been organist and Director of Music for 12 years at St. Augustine’s and St. Mary’s parishes in Baldwinsville. At the age of 8 years old, I started to sing in the folk choir at St. John the Evangelist Church in Oswego, New York. William Flynn, also Faith Formation coordinator, knew that something more was in store for me. He encouraged me to take organ lessons/piano lessons.
Our music ministry programs were very active prior to COVID19. Unfortunately, singing is a “highrisk” activity. Due to these risks, we’ve had to unfortunately suspend choir until further notice. Our choir lofts/areas do not allow us to have everyone present, and sociallydistanced at 12 feet (the CDC required recommendation.) Parishioners also noticed that hymnals/missals have been removed from the pews. A new project is in the works at St. Augustine’s to display music, and St. Mary’s parishioners have been invited to take their own copy of Breaking Bread to bring back and forth from church.
I am hopeful that once the vaccine distribution takes places, we will gradually allow certain activities to commence. WE ARE GRATEFUL to our cantors who’ve stepped up to the plate to help lead “singing” during mass. I AM GRATEFUL, our parishioners still sing with their masks. Mass just isn’t the same without the full and active participation of the assembly.
If I could choose another ministry to participate in, it would be Faith Formation. Coincidentally, this year, I started to teach Faith Formation classes via Zoom. I am a certified teacher, so it was great to be in the virtual classroom again.
I ask for parishioners to pray for our music ministry members, and continued health of me. I have had major health complications, so I am in that “highrisk” group of people susceptible for Covid. Many of our choir members are isolated at home. Please pray for them too.
My name is Patti Pitts and I am the bookkeeper. I have been a member of the Baldwinsville community since birth. I am a graduate of St. Mary’s School, Baker High School and SUNY Potsdam. I have been employed at St. Augustine's for 10 years. I am responsible for the bookkeeping for the Church. It is my job to not simply handle the books but also to report to the pastor, trustees, finance council and parish about our financial picture. When we were first hit with the pandemic, I was very nervous that this could really hinder our mission at the parish. While we have not yet turned the corner on Covid, I have great confidence that everything is going to be ok. I'm also grateful and inspired by the parishioners of St. Augustine's. While we have heard stories about many parishes struggling to meet their financial obligations, here at St. Augustine’s we are at 95% of what our collections would normally be. That is a great tribute to the people of our parish who are deeply committed to our parish home of St. Augustine’s. It allows us to continue to serve the parish. I would ask the parish to pray for a successful vaccine so that we will all be able to worship in person together again.
Hello lovely people of St. Augustine’s! Fr. Cliff has asked each of the staff members to write to you and let you know who we are, what we do, and why we do it and I get to go first! I am Debbie Krisher and I am the Pastoral Associate of the parish and interim Catechetical (Faith Formation) Leader. I am married to Jim, who is the Director of the Spiritual Renewal Center and has frequently given presentations, reflections and retreats for the people of St. Augustine’s. We have four grown children and a daughter-in-law, who live scattered throughout the country, and one sweet little granddaughter, who is 15 months old.
I’ve been in professional lay ministry for 37 years. I’ve been a parishioner at St. Augustine’s for almost 25 years and on staff for 22 years. As a college student at SU I felt a very strong call to follow Jesus although I was uncertain as to how. I later discerned a call to ministry after meeting a friend’s brother (now my husband) who was a Director of Faith Formation. It was the first time I realized that it is possible to have a vocation to ministry and remain a lay person! Over time, and with additional education and training I moved from Faith Formation to Pastoral Ministry.
Pastoral Associate means I am involved in most of the areas of ministry in the parish, leading some and supporng others. I understand it as trying to keep a bird’s eye view on the parish to see that it is functioning well and is healthy, while also looking for where needs are developing and responding to those needs. This is done in conjunction with the Pastor, the Staff, the Trustees, the Pastoral Council and the Finance Committee and many other volunteer ministers. I am also directly involved in some of the ministries.
I love working with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the ministry that introduces people and welcomes them to being disciples of Christ and into the Catholic Church. I also find funeral ministry fulfilling. These ministries allow me to serve while also deepening my own faith. Some of the liveliest ministerial experiences for me have been on the women’s retreats. These retreats are such a great opportunity to get to know the people on the retreat, to find others who have the same questions, doubts, faith, joys that I have. To hear how God is working in each person’s life, similarly but different! There is laughter, tears, chocolate, wine, and a slipper in the candy machine! (Ladies you know who you are!!)
Covid has changed many things about how we are doing Church and put a lot of gatherings on hold. Not being able to come together as a community in the same way as before is perhaps the most trying thing we face. However, many parishioners, working as a team enable us to keep our ministries alive and thriving and I feel privileged to be a part of how we have responded. It has forced us to be innovative, to learn new skills, and to attempt new ways of doing things with successes and some failures. One thing I look forward to is not having to go home on a cold snowy night after a meeting - thank you Zoom!
As we face the coming months with Covid still very present in our community, I am heartened by the surety that the people St. Augustine’s will rise to the occasion. We will continue to find ways to share our faith with each other and with the community at large. We will be the presence of the Risen Lord in our community. Even though we are not all able to share in the Eucharist around the altar at St. Augustine’s, we will be the Body of Christ for each other.
Please pray for me, as I will pray for you.